Katie and Ben Ritter of Moorhead, MN, with Tate and Mila. Born prematurely, the twins spent 13 long weeks in the NICU, with their parents at their side.
Spoiler Alert: Twins born at 26 weeks, weighing just 2 pounds each, do turn into healthy, happy and very busy toddlers. I’d like you to meet Tate and Mila.
My husband, Ben, and I, were expecting our babies in November of 2014. Around Thanksgiving. But they arrived in August, 13 weeks ahead of schedule.
I remember it was a Saturday afternoon, Aug. 23, and we had finished setting up both baby cribs. Ben was moving furniture so he could start cleaning our carpets.
I had not been feeling well, so I went to lie down. What I thought was back pain and a little cramping turned into labor that could not be reversed.
We had not completed any birthing classes … or even learned any breathing exercises.
Tate and Mila were born at 7:08 and 7:09 that evening. Tate, who weighed in at 2 pounds, 5 ounces, did not make a sound. But Mila, at 2 pounds, 6 ounces, let out a little whimper that sounded almost puppy-like.
Ben and I kept getting reassured that the best nurses and doctors were helping our twins. A social worker at the hospital suggested something she thought might be helpful for us.
She said to Ben, “A lot of families use CaringBridge to keep everyone updated.”
He started the site when Mila and Tate were 3 days old. I think that sitting down and writing helped Ben manage his feelings.
When they tell you the NICU is a rollercoaster of emotions, they aren’t kidding.
Behind those doors is a whole lot of hope, fear, tears, smiles, rejoicing and frustrations. But it was heartwarming to know that so many people were thinking of us, and praying for our little ones.
We found that CaringBridge was a good outlet to process the long days of watching our sick babies fight for their lives.
After 13 weeks in the hospital, Mila and Tate finally got to come home. I can tell you I dreamed of that day, as much as I dreamed of our 2-pound babies growing into healthy, happy kids.
The outcome of our story is better than we ever could have imagined. Our premature babies are now thriving toddlers, turning 4 in August. They’re in preschool … separate classes. Mila is hilarious. She can make anyone laugh. And Tate is our lover; he is the one who will cuddle with you.
We also have a new little one in the family. Our son, Wyatt, will be 2 in May. He was born a full-term, healthy baby: 8 pounds, 1 ounce. He is huge … right now he is as big as Tate, height-wise!
A few months ago, I looked back at our CaringBridge site. I went on randomly, and wound up reading everything.
I thought, “I can’t believe we went through all that.” It was like it happened to someone else. You forget, and then the memories come flooding back.
We haven’t posted on CaringBridge in awhile, because we thankfully haven’t had to share medical updates. But people still always ask, “How are your babies?”
So maybe I will write again soon. Sometimes it is good just to hear that things are “normal.”
Katie and her family live in Moorhead, MN.